In this moment of intimacy, can you feel if you are being hugged by a ‘real man’ or a tender man?

When it comes to being a man, do you see yourself as a ‘real man’ or a tender man?

Do you embrace a hug, or does it scare you to your inner core?

As men, why is the act or even the thought of a hug so polarising for us? We either welcome it with open arms, leaning forward eagerly for the warm embrace with another, or we stiffen up and become so mechanical we end up hurting the very person wanting to show us affection.

So what is a hug?

The act of holding someone tightly in one's arms, typically to express affection would be the seemingly straightforward answer, yet further investigation may reveal that the answer could be far more complex than this.

When it comes to hugging our partner or our children, we become the tender man we know we are on the inside. But when it comes to hugging others, especially other men, is there anything more terrifying for what society has dubbed a real man?

If you have ever started to feel anxious, knowing someone was about to step into your private space and wrap their arms around you, or you have ever left a function or family gathering by slipping away quietly, vanishing into the night like Cinderella, you may be fearful of the simple hug.

It is not difficult to recognise the apprehension in someone if they are uncomfortable with hugging, especially if you are the instigator. Apart from the obvious stepping on toes or smashing of cheeks, let’s briefly explore the various reactive manoeuvres portrayed in this simple act of intimacy.

There is the ‘Half hug’:

This is for a real man. Whilst shaking hands they lean forward and put their spare arm around your back.

The ‘Shoulder charge’:

You go in with your arms open and the recipient, and I call them this as they aren’t hugging you back, comes in sideways with their leading shoulder dipped.

The ‘Awkward hug’:

You go in with open arms to wrap one arm over your partner’s shoulder and the other around their torso, and your partner comes in mirroring you, clashing his right arm with your left. Or they proceed to put both arms around your torso.…. awkward!

Last but not least, the violent ‘Man Hug’:

They come in hard, hold and squeeze tight then give three hard slaps across your back like they are tapping out of a wrestling hold.

Every type of hug given or received tells us so much about the people involved, if we care enough to stop and take note.

So why is something that should be gentle and tender so socially unaccepted and hard for a real man to master? We can physically achieve some amazing feats as men, yet the hug has still not been conquered.

Being averse to hugging is like greeting someone at your door. You know you want to invite them in, however thoughts start to play out in your mind like, ‘things aren’t tidy’; ‘nothing is in order’; ‘I didn’t invite you over’; ‘I wasn’t expecting this’; ‘if I invite you in you’ll judge me on how I live’. For if we surrender to those three seconds of intimacy, we know we are exposing all that we are and all that we have lived, and if we haven’t been living all that we could be we know that this will be felt.

Could this be the reason we as men have not conquered the hug? Could it be that we innately know we haven’t been living who we truly are or value ourselves enough to let others in for fear we will be judged? Are we reacting to what we are feeling from the other person in that split second before we engage, for they too may be feeling exactly what we are feeling? Or could it be a combination of both?

A hug is a tender moment of intimacy shared between two people; a moment when words are not needed, an embrace that tells that person more in three seconds, if you fully embrace the moment, than half an hour of dialogue could ever accomplish. It is an opportunity to let your defences down and say, here, have all of me. When you surrender fully the other person can then feel everything you are offering of yourself, giving them permission to reciprocate.

"You are never a lesser man by expressing how delicate you are,
but always less when you do not."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 553

I recently started hugging my dad where we danced through the repertoire of movements described earlier, his favourite being the ‘Shoulder charge’. I could see and feel he wanted and craved the intimacy but just wasn’t able to open himself up fully to let me in. We had never hugged or expressed our feelings for each other and I knew I would need to make the first move if this was ever to change. I persisted for quite a number of years, at times being mocked. However, I kept presenting my open chest and love to him during this ‘courtship’.

My dad still automatically offers his hand for a handshake but will lower it when he registers who he is about to greet, occasionally presenting the shoulder, but when he does open his body and let me in for a full embrace it is a moment of magic. I offer everything that I am to him and I can feel in return his vulnerability and love, seldom expressed at any other time.

I am finding a lot of men wanting this same connection but feel they are wanting someone else to instigate it, ultimately giving them permission. A friend recently shared he received a hug from a son’s close mate. The mate came in hard with the typical ‘Man hug’, tapping out at the end. When my friend made him aware of how rough and aggressive his actions were he then surrendered; he melted into my friend’s arms giving him a tender hug and a kiss on the cheek. The love they shared for each other could be felt by both men in that single moment.

When you hug your children or your partner, pause for just a moment and register what you are feeling. Then ask yourself, why can’t I express or feel this with my father, brother, cousin or mate?

For whatever you feel during this moment with your loved ones should be shared with everyone as they are wanting, sometimes craving, to share it with you but may not know how. We are all equal, have the same desire to be loved, and are all craving intimacy.

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  • By James Stanfield, Qualified Cartographer, Survey Draftsman, Small Business owner for over 25 years

    I do not blindly follow, I need to feel and discern everything for myself before making a decision about my life. I have a huge desire for fairness and equality.